A blog post about retelling
A major kinder and first grade standard is retelling literature they have read or that has been read to them. I have found this to be a difficult skill for my English Language students especially, but as we’ve been practicing orally, they are getting better and better! Here is a fun way my students like to share their retells.
After reading a story together, we discuss the sequence of events. My district is big on Thinking Maps (and I do love them myself), so we create a flow map of the sequence of events throughout the story. We record it on our flow map and then it’s time for the fun to begin.
I give each students a blank puzzle sheet. We copy down our sequencing in our best drawings onto our puzzle. In kinder and first, I usually like to have the students draw their sequence instead of write it, there is less stumbling and freaking out about spelling, etc. (aka saves my sanity to draw rather than to write). As students get older, teachers may want to have them sketch or lose the drawings all together and just write on the puzzle pieces.
We are also focused on transition words during our retelling (which helps for our oral and written retells). After we draw, we add our transition words to the top of each puzzle piece. We discuss which transition words will go best with our story. We also write them with a comma (except for “then”), all this to support their writing in the future (the more clues the better). We even put periods at the end of our pictures to remind us to stop (especially if we are writing it out, it is a sentence after all)!
Next, we get to cut! I obviously gave very explicit instructions (yet there’s always that ONE who hacks it all up like he’s never used scissors before) to cut carefully, slowly, and as best as we can! We don’t want to cut off any important pieces to the puzzle or it just won’t fit.
Here’s the best part now that our puzzles are done. I have my students find a partner, switch puzzles and solve! Once they’ve pieced together their partner’s puzzle, they each take a turn retelling the story in the correct sequence and using those transition words. I have them go to 3 to 4 different partners to practice their retells. I love watching how excited they are to tell the SAME DANG STORY to someone else! Hey, whatever works right??
This is great oral practice that leads directly into writing if you so choose. I am telling you, I have my kids orally retell everything a million times (well not that many, but a lot) and guess what happens? When we go to write, they don’t ask me what to write! They KNOW. They just told 23 other people 23 times. It’s ingrained in the little brains. This doesn’t stop them from asking how to spell every other word, but it’s pretty amazing how they can just sit right down and get to writing just by practicing it orally.
After all this, you can save these little puzzles too! Throw it in baggy with the book and put it in a center for students to practice over and over!
I also use these puzzles in my small group for transition words during a retell. I just wrote big transition words on each one and practiced using them to retell the story.
Want another retell activity? Check out my retell puppets!